The Panthers had a strong pitching staff, but the Wildcats still won three of the four games.
“Chapman’s pitching was one of the toughest staffs we have faced this year, so just being able to get on base for other guys to get timely hits and score was probably the biggest difficulty this past weekend,” sophomore center fielder Tim Wilson said.
The ’Cats lost the first game April 16, 2-3, but came back strong during the second game and won 5-2.
Both teams began game two slowly, with no scoring until Linfield’s third inning. Freshman left fielder Nate McClellan was the first to score.
After stealing second, sophomore second baseman Eric Evenson scored off a single hit to center field by senior third baseman Dustin Smith.
Sophomore designated hitter Clayton Truex scored after a double from junior shortstop Kevin Allan. Sophomore catcher Kyle Chamberlain then scored after Wilson hit a pop fly to center field. Evenson scored for the second time of the game.
The Panthers got their only two runs of the game during the eighth inning.
On the mound for the Wildcats this game was freshman pitcher Zach Brandon, who pitched seven innings and only had five hits off him in that time. Junior pitcher Spencer Crepeaux only had two hits off him.
The Wildcats scored more runs each game, winning their first game April 17, 7-1. Wilson hit a home run in the first inning and no one scored again until Linfield’s fifth inning, when the ’Cats scored three runs by Smith and seniors right fielder Gunnar Cederberg and catcher Cole Bixenman.
Making their way through the line up, Evenson and Cederberg scored in the sixth inning.
Chapman scored its only run of the game during the seventh inning. The Wildcats scored their seventh run the same way they scored their first in the game, with a home run hit by senior first baseman Kevin Coleman.
“There are obvious implications when you are facing a team that is ranked in the top 10 nationally, so we knew we were in for a challenge. Their first pitcher is one of the best pitchers in Division III baseball, and we competed very well against him, so that was very encouraging,” senior pitcher Evan Hilberg said about the challenge of this series.
The fourth game of the series against Chapman University ended in a 13-6 win for the Wildcats. However, the game did not look good for the team at the beginning when Chapman had a four-point lead.
Chamberlain made the first Linfield run in the third inning.
Linfield began to close the gap in the score in the fifth inning when Wilson brought in three runs after hitting his second home run of the series and allowing runs from Smith and Evenson. This took the Panthers out of their hitting streak, while the Wildcats continued to score.
In the sixth inning, three of five runs were scored by McClellan, Wilson and Bixenman, and the last two runs of the inning were scored by Evenson.
The seventh inning ended with four more Linfield runs and another home run from Wilson, which brought in two other players. Sophomore right fielder Danny Urness scored the final run, leaving the score 13-6.
“The biggest thing that came out of the weekend was the fact that we played so well against the No. 7 team in the nation. It shows us that we have the ability to play at an extremely high level and compete with any team in Division III baseball,” Hilberg said.
However, while Chapman’s team had a good pitching staff, coach Scott Brosius said he has had confidence in the Linfield pitching talent all season long.
“We have some talented pitchers and also have enough depth to overcome a couple of injuries. Recently we’ve seen some of the younger players start to emerge and really complement the upper classmen,” Brosius said.
As the season winds down and NCAA Division III regionals comes up, the Wildcats will continue working hard. Their next home series is slated for April 22 and 23 against George Fox University.
Kaylyn Peterson/For the Review
Kaylyn Peterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.